Pro Tip: Here are eight ways in which Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) can help bakers deliver consistent, fresh and high-quality bread.

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) has emerged as a revolutionary technique in the baking industry, offering numerous advantages for preserving the freshness and quality of bread while reducing waste.

By carefully controlling the composition of gases within the packaging, MAP significantly extends the shelf life of bread and eliminates the need for bread waste when done properly. In this Pro Tip, we explore the benefits of MAP packaging for bread, its impact on reducing food waste and the key considerations for successful implementation.

Prolonged Shelf Life

MAP creates a controlled environment, inhibiting microbial growth and delaying the onset of spoilage. 

By reducing oxygen levels and introducing specific gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen, MAP extends the shelf life of bread by days or even weeks compared to conventional packaging methods.

Water activity plays a significant role in microbial growth and deterioration. Bread generally has a water activity ranging from 0.95 to 0.99, which provides an environment conducive to the growth of various microorganisms like bacteria, molds and yeast. When the water activity is high, these microorganisms can reproduce and thrive, leading to spoilage of the bread.

Improved Product Safety

The controlled atmosphere established through MAP helps to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms, including pathogens such as Clostridium botulinum, Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes and Bacillus cereus. Ensuring product safety is critical, especially for baked goods with higher water activity and pH levels, which can create favorable conditions for microbial proliferation.

Preservation of Product Quality

MAP maintains the texture, flavor and appearance of bread over an extended period. By minimizing lipid oxidation, the formation of off-flavors is reduced and staling is slowed, ensuring that consumers enjoy a consistent and fresh product for an extended time.

Reduction in Food Waste

The enhanced shelf life resulting from MAP packaging significantly reduces food waste. Breads that previously faced premature disposal due to spoilage can now remain fresh and safe for consumption, leading to cost savings and environmental benefits.

Customization for Different Breads

MAP packaging can be tailored to suit various types of bread, including gluten-free, whole wheat and seeded varieties. Customized gas blends and packaging materials cater to the specific needs and characteristics of each bread type, optimizing preservation.

Sustainable Packaging Solutions

MAP packaging aligns with sustainability goals as it minimizes the need for preservatives and additives, reducing the environmental impact associated with food waste and spoilage. Additionally, packaging materials with enhanced barrier properties contribute to a more sustainable supply chain.

Enhanced Distribution and Export Possibilities

The extended shelf life achieved through MAP enables bread manufacturers to explore wider distribution networks and even export markets, reaching consumers in distant locations while maintaining product freshness.

Cost Effectiveness

While initial investment in MAP equipment may be required, the reduction in bread waste and the ability to reach new markets can result in significant cost savings and increased revenue for bakeries.

MAP stands as a transformative solution for the baking industry, offering a range of advantages for bread producers and consumers alike. By extending shelf life, ensuring product safety, reducing waste and enabling wider distribution possibilities, MAP paves the way for a more sustainable and efficient bakery sector.

Embracing MAP technology empowers bakeries to deliver consistent, fresh and high-quality bread while contributing to a greener and more sustainable future for the food industry.

Richard Charpentier is a classically trained French baker, CMB, holds a degree in baking science from Kansas State University, and is owner and chief executive officer of Baking Innovation. Connect with him on LinkedIn.